Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Trademark Theater Announces the Launch of New Commissioning Platform

Trademark Theater Announces the Launch of New Commissioning Platform

Trademark Theater announces the launch of a brand-new commissioning platform today. The platform awards artists with development opportunities for their new works as well as a two-week workshop and staged reading in an upcoming season. Playwrights Kira Obolensky and Harrison David Rivers along with composer/lyricist David Darrow make up the first group of commissioned artists. "2020 marks the first time we are welcoming artists from outside our organization to create under the Trademark banner," says Artistic Director, Tyler Michaels King. "These commissions are our first step towards becoming the hub of new theatrical work in the Midwest. We couldn't be more fortunate to launch this platform with such amazing theater-makers."

Trademark's new platform and its commissions have been in place since the Fall of 2019 and were expected to be announced as part of Trademark's fourth season on March 18th, 2020. Due to the current pandemic, the season announcement and first workshop in the series were postponed. Although programming has been delayed, the company remains committed to developing the new works. "It is important to us to continue to support to our artists and our staff during this difficult time," says Michaels King. "While we have delayed our programming until at least the fall, we are pleased to share these exciting commissions with the public. The commissions are an investment in our future, our artists and our audiences."

The first of Trademark's commissions is a new musical titled Four Measures. The piece is written by Kira Obolensky with music and lyrics by David Darrow. Four Measures is based on the "21 grams" theory, a bizarre medical experiment that took place in Massachusetts in 1907. In the experiment, the eccentric Dr. Duncan MacDougall attempted to measure the change in weight of six patients at the moment of death to deduce if the human soul has weight. The play weaves between the lives of the patients under Dr. MacDougall's care, his eager assistant Lucy Starling, and their mysterious connection to the afterlife.

The Most Important I Do Not Tell You at All is Trademark's second commission of 2020 and is written by Harrison David Rivers. The play is an exploration of a young relationship through the pair's differing artistic perspectives: Lizzy who photographs couples in intimate settings and Lucas who composes music. Featuring hyper-realistic portraiture and original compositions, the play questions how art can both enrich and destroy our relationships.

Trademark's commissioning platform will award two teams of adventurous art-makers each year to develop brand new works of theater. These commissions allow Trademark to increase their contributions to the new works community. "It has always been our goal to support the work of emerging and established artists from both the Twin Cities and the national arts scene," Michaels King shares. "With these commissions, we are creating a home for bold storytellers and risk-takers. They allow us to put more projects in our pipeline, generate more content for our audiences, and enter more fully into the new works conversation."


Kira Obolensky's plays have been produced locally, Off Broadway, in Los Angeles, in Prague and Terezin, and homeless shelters, prisons, tribal colleges, chemical dependency centers, immigrant centers and in rural Minnesota. She has received awards and fellowships for her work, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Kesselring Prize, and most recently a Mellon Foundation National Playwright Fellowship, which put her in residence with the award-winning theater Ten Thousand Things for six years. She has co-written a national bestseller about architecture, called The Not So Big House, lectured extensively on her work "imagining an Audience" and recently worked with Pandies Theater in New Delhi India on their production of Medea. Her novella, The Anarchists Float to St. Louise, won Quarterly West's Novella prize. She attended Juilliard's Playwriting Program and is a core writer at the Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis. She teaches playwriting at the University of Minnesota, at Shakopee Correctional Facility, and at Spalding University's MFA Program for Writers.

David Darrow is a Brooklyn-based actor, composer, and playwright. He has performed Off-Broadway and around the country at American Conservatory Theater, The Guthrie, Baltimore Center Stage, Theatre Latte Da, Asolo Repertory Theatre, Florida Repertory Theater, Project Y Theater (Innovative Theater Award: Best Featured Actor), and others. David has also written and co-written several musicals (The Passage, Jonah and the Whale, The Great Work, The Boy and Robin Hood) which have been produced or developed at The NAMT Festival, Village Theater, Greater Boston Stage Company, Trademark Theater, and 7th House Theater. His latest work, Time Travelers, is a mind-bending new musical about growing up and growing old. It is currently in development.

Harrison David Rivers is the winner of the 2018 Relentless Award for The Bandaged Place. His other plays include WHEN LAST WE FLEW (GLAAD Media Award), Sweet (AUDELCO nom), Where Storms Are Born (Berkshire Theatre Award nom, Edgerton Foundation New Play Award), This Bitter Earth (Jeff nom, MN Theatre Award for Exceptional New Work) and the musicals Five Points (MN Theatre Award for Exceptional New Work, BroadwayWorld Minneapolis Award for Best New Work) and Broadbend, Arkansas. He is the recipient of McKnight, Jerome, and Van Lier Fellowships and residencies with the Siena Art Institute, Duke University, New York Theatre Workshop, New York Stage & Film and the Williamstown Theater Festival.

Related Articles View More Minneapolis / St. Paul Stories

Buy at the Theatre Shop

T-Shirts, Mugs, Phone Cases & More

More Hot Stories For You